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Dealing with anxiety as a new Mom

Dealing with anxiety as a new Mom

How to deal with anxiety as a new Mom

Written by Christine Z, Breaking Free Lifestyle Blog

Becoming a new parent comes with all sorts of challenges. Navigating the emotional and physical stress can be overwhelming, so it’s no wonder many new Moms experience feelings of anxiety for the first time. Learn how to acknowledge and deal with those feelings in this article:

  • What is anxiety like as a new Mom
  • Understanding how you may be able to overcome or cope with anxiety
  • Quick tips to relieving moments of anxiety

Experiencing anxiety as a new Mom

Understand that you are not alone:

According to a US study, about 30% of adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, with women more likely to be affected. Anxiety during pregnancy is also very common, with about 10% of mothers describing this experience. This can be due to hormonal, emotional and physical changes to your life. In short, motherhood can be scary. 

Feelings of anxiety can be all consuming, and while the experience will be very personal, you may also be surprised by how many other Moms are going through similar emotions.

Removing thoughts of isolation is a good first step.

How your body responds to anxiety:

Anxiety is a stress response that our primal brain uses to keep us safe and ensure our survival. It is a leftover from ancient times to help our species survive, but it has nothing to do with the fears and stresses we experience today. 

In high pressure situations, our first response is usually to think of a solution, or to rationalise the fear we are experiencing. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. When we try to introduce logic and tell ourselves that there is nothing to worry about, we are missing an important clue. We are not responding to the feeling we have using the appropriate language.

The way we need to respond to our body and our needs must be in the appropriate language, the language of anxiety, the language of our 100,000 year old brain. And if we are talking logic, it is impossible for us to internalise that message and feel better. 

What we need to do, is to respond to that fight or flight response impulse in its own language. There are several ways of doing this, which we will cover later in the article. 

How to start overcoming those feelings of anxiety:

Your wellbeing as a Mom is the #1 priority

Sometimes we forget that if we’re not feeling our best, it reflects in everything we do. Looking after your own wellbeing needs to be the first priority as a Mom. Your duty is not to put your baby above everything else. Your duty is to support yourself and keep yourself healthy, so you can be the best parent to your newborn, who is entirely reliant on you for their survival. 

For this reason, on every plane ride you are being asked to look after yourself first in case of an emergency. You’re instructed to put on your oxygen mask yourself before helping those around you, even your kids. Because if you are not healthy and well, you will not be able to help others. We can apply the same principle to motherhood, even though it might feel selfish at first.

If you feel anxious and uncertain, your baby is programmed to pick up on your emotions and might develop the same feelings. This can lead to a cycle of negative emotions: stressed mother = stressed baby = stressed mother = stressed baby.

What you really need when you feel anxiety, is to love yourself, support yourself and take the time for yourself to seek and find what you need in order to be the best mother you can be. 

Build your network of support

You may not be ready to talk to other people yet, and that’s okay.

Luckily, there’s a whole wheelhouse of information on the Internet that you can access for free, including videos, community groups and blog articles like this one. Find more on the Rascal + Friends Blog.

If you do feel comfortable reaching out to other people, you may like to share your experience with close friends, family or other Moms going through similar experiences. Not only does this help build your network of support, but the act of voicing your feelings can help be a remedy. Remember the phrase “a problem shared is a problem halved.”

Don’t be afraid to speak up. You may be surprised by how many other people will have gone through something similar.

Schedule your own self care

Self care doesn’t have to be overcomplicated, and is much easier said than done with a newborn. Remember, being the best mother starts with the best version of yourself.

Self care could be the simple act of going for a walk around the block to your favorite cafe, tuning in to 10 minutes of late night reality TV, or calling an old friend for a quick laugh. You’ll be surprised how a few simple moments of ‘me time’ throughout the day can help you feel calmer overall.

Write down a list of a few simple things that bring you joy, and push yourself to do one of these things next time you’re feeling a bit anxious. Over time, you may like to integrate these small acts into our daily routine.

 Listen to your body

As mentioned above, anxiety is a stress response that our primal brain uses to keep us safe and ensure our survival. This can impact our physical and mental wellbeing. Try calm that flight impulse with the following: 

  • Make sure you get as much sleep as possible. If you suffer from broken sleep during the night, make sure to take a nap or listen to a guided meditation to wind down. Schedule this daily so it becomes part of your routine.
  • Nourish yourself with fresh foods, and drinking plenty of water.
  • Move outside every day. Just a 10-minute walk can have a calming effect on your physical and mental wellbeing.
  • Observe and recognise your signs anxiety. Overtime, you’ll be able to quickly curb these triggers with solutions right for you.

Quick tips to relieving feelings of anxiety: 

  • Stand up straight and open your chest
  • Take ten deep breaths: count to three on the in-breath and count to six on the out-breath
  • Take a cold shower
  • Name what you’re feeling
  • Smile or tune into something that makes you laugh

Professional assistance is available:

Remember, there is nothing quite like a face-to-face conversation with a qualified professional. If you struggle to manage your anxiety, or even knowing where to start is stressing you out further, seek professional assistance.

You may like to contact your local GP or paediatrician, a therapist, psychological therapy & workshops for Moms, or local parenting groups.

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